The Calling Season 1 Review – Inconsistent execution plagues spiritual cop drama

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3/5

 

One of the best things about Peacock’s new detective series is its central character, Detective Avraham. Like most of his cinematic counterparts, he is a devoted professional with pressing unresolved issues. Avi’s father was murdered when he was still a child, leaving him little room to enjoy childhood. But what separates him from the rest of the pack is his metaphorical visions that somehow guide his hand through investigation.

“The Calling” refers to Avi’s life mission to solve cases and help people. However, David E. Kelley, who has notable experience in this genre and style of stories (L.A. Law, Boston Legal, Big Little Lies), fails to capitalize on the essence of Avi’s supernatural powers in his storytelling. This Peacock drama falls a bit flat due to this lack of spark and distinguishment.

Kelley’s exposure does make sure that the format is established and a continuum of investigative proceedings serves as the base. The seasoned showrunner has a rich history of delivering on the details of a procedural drama. The way this eight-part season 1 is divided is one-half of four episodes each. The first half sees Avi and Janine (played by J. Canfield), his new novice partner, try to solve the disappearance of a young school-going student, Vincent Conte.

The other focuses on an innocuous bomb threat at a children’s daycare. Additionally, it also compounds into a search for Elisabeth Serra, an event planner rubbing shoulders with the elite of New York in a dangerous zero-sum game.

Even with two cases in a single season, Kelly seemed short of time in the end. The uneven balance between story and exposition left the overall appeal of the show hanging by a measly thread of Jeff Wilbusch’s sturdy portrayal. Although we never get the sense that things were rushed, some more episodes could have seen the above play being more balanced out. The Calling does not meddle too much with story elements. It remains foremostly a police procedural drama with shades of psychological turmoil and suspense.

A common theme across episodes is the detectives not able to arrive at the correct conclusion on the first go. That serves as a realistic thrust for the investigations and also makes sure that the mysteries can endure for longer.

The Calling offers us some interesting characters navigating complex emotions. They are interwoven into the overarching plotlines, albeit with minor deviations. But one issue with them is the lack of emotional accessibility. In both halves, we hardly get to meet characters that we can get behind and root for. All of them seem clammed up with their problems and make their sufferings internal.

The projection of which we see in their actions, in some ways. You are not alone in feeling detached from the story as a viewer. But since that happens for mostly all the characters (except the victims of whom we see very little), it is most probably a creative choice rather than anything else.

Vincent and Elisabeth could have had a little more screen time. From what little Kelley gave us about them, they were probably the most suited for that need as a viewer to put someone on a pedestal above everyone else while watching a show or a movie. Some of Avi’s distinguishing features, like seeing visions and making freehand drawings to get clues, did not sustain for some reason.

In the first half, we saw Avi scribble away drawing after drawings that essentially led him to connect the dots. But in the second half, all of a sudden, he seemed to rely on the input from Janine and Earl. One of the reasons that could explain the phenomenon is that since he was working alone at first, without a partner, he relied more on his instincts.

But gradually, he came to trust his partners and learned to take a backseat at times. In hindsight, living with that is not that bad an idea. Wilbusch and Canfield are the real heroes in the cast and deliver steady, grounded performances to anchor the stories. They complement each other really well and cultivate groovy buddy-cop-like chemistry.

The Calling has its highs and lows. While genre fans might lap it up as it is, those unfamiliar with the kind might take it with a pinch of salt. There are things that Kelley and co will have to work on, if there is a season 2 next year.


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  • Verdict - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
6.5/10

1 thought on “The Calling Season 1 Review – Inconsistent execution plagues spiritual cop drama”

  1. I think a 6.5 out of 10 is a bit harsh though I think your analysis was pretty spot on. The actors feel like they are struggling to get better defined characters from a script and a plot that just falls a bit short. I’d like to see a second season, I think there is more potential here than was actualized in season 1.

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